In the span of about 15 minutes or so Sunday, Marquez Valdes-Scantling experienced both the high of a clutch play made in an NFL game, and the low of fumbling one away.
The sequence epitomized Valdes-Scantling's career to this point, but didn't shake the confidence of his coach and quarterback.
"I have a lot of love for Marquez," Aaron Rodgers said after Green Bay's 34-31 overtime loss to Indianapolis, via ESPN. "I see the guy every single day, see how much he cares about it. It happens, unfortunately. A lot of it is fundamentals, carrying the ball, but I've had my fair share of fumbles. It was just bad timing, obviously. ... But that stuff happens. He made a big play at the end of regulation to kind of get us going on third-and-10. Disappointed for him, disappointed for us."
Rodgers has Valdes-Scantling to thank for flipping Green Bay's chances in the game's final two minutes when he hauled in a Rodgers bomb with three defenders closing in on him and the outcome essentially in the balance. Facing third-and-10, Rodgers dropped into his own end zone and heaved a pass down the middle of the field, watching as the ball fell into the arms of Valdes-Scantling near midfield. The connection picked up 47 yards and took the Packers from needing to cover almost the entire length of the field to a requirement of just seven more yards to hit Mason Crosby 's target line.
The football gods giveth and taketh away, though, as the same player credited with bringing down Valdes-Scantling on that completion -- rookie Julian Blackmon -- returned with a vengeance in overtime to force the fumble that essentially decided the game. Rodgers targeted Valdes-Scantling a sixth and final time on the second play of overtime, hitting him in the flat for a screen that was blown up by an aggressive reaction from Xavier Rhodes and Blackmon, with the latter punching the ball out of Valdes-Scantling's grasp. DeForest Buckner recovered at Green Bay's 29, all but ensuring the Packers would be going home with a loss.
Valdes-Scantling tweeted a message of gratitude amid adversity afterward, writing "Thank You God. Without failure there is no growth."
"I know he's really hurting right now," Packers coach Matt LaFleur said of Valdes-Scantling after the defeat, again via ESPN. "He made so many plays for us and not only in the pass game but in the run game, stuff that you guys probably don't even notice that we're not getting the yardage that we get if he's not blocking his ass off.
"So I can live with MVS. I've got more confidence in him now than probably ever. I think he continues to get better each and every day. Every time we go out there, he's providing big plays."
Valdes-Scantling later returned to Twitter to say he'd received death threats following the loss, rightfully pointing out the abhorrence of such messages over a sporting event before closing with "My team got my back."
Valdes-Scantling finished with three receptions on six targets for 55 yards, and should also be credited for drawing a pass interference flag on Indianapolis cornerback Rock Ya-Sin that set the Packers up at Indianapolis' 4. Green Bay scored on the next play, taking a 28-14 lead into the half.
"I can live with MVS, and we're going to continue to live with him and just hope that he can continue to get better and better and better," LaFleur said. "And I've got all the confidence in the world in him."